Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – The United States (USA) designates a number of countries that receive special attention under the Religious Freedom Act for serious violations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed some of them, namely China, Iran and Russia. There are also North Korea and Myanmar.
Other countries designated as countries of particular concern are Cuba, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, Algeria, Central African Republic, Comoros, Vietnam.
Several groups, including the Kremlin-allied Wagner Group, a private paramilitary organization active in Syria, Africa and Ukraine, have also been designated as Entities of Special Concern. The Wagner Group was named for its activities in the Central African Republic.
“Around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, imprison and even kill people for their beliefs,” Blinken said in the statement, quoted by ReutersSaturday (3/12/2022).
“The United States will not remain silent in the face of these violations.”
He added that Washington would welcome the opportunity to meet with all governments to outline concrete steps for the delisting.
Washington has stepped up pressure on Iran for its brutal crackdown on protesters. Women burned headscarves, mandated by Iran’s conservative dress code, during demonstrations that marked one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
The United Nations says more than 300 people have been killed and 14,000 arrested so far in protests that began after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for “inappropriate clothing”.
UN experts have also called on Iran’s Shia Muslim majority to end the persecution and harassment of religious minorities and to end the use of religion to limit the exercise of fundamental rights.
The Baha’i community is one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in Iran, with a sharp increase in arrests and attacks this year, including Christians and atheists.
The United States has also expressed serious concern for human rights in China’s western Xinjiang region, home to 10 million Uyghurs.
Western rights groups and governments have long accused Beijing of abuses against the predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, including forced labor in internment camps.
The United States accuses China of genocide, which Beijing vehemently denies.
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